21 Sep

reaping rewards

Blaze Jordan finished the 2023 season in the Double-A Eastern League, but the former DeSoto Central High masher left his mark in the High-Class A South Atlantic League. Jordan was named the third baseman on milb.com’s SAL All-Star team. Rated the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s organization, Jordan hit .324 (.533 slug) with 12 homers and 55 RBIs in 73 games for High-A Greenville, helping the Drive win a first-half division title before his promotion to Double-A Portland on July 14. The Drive won the league championship on Tuesday. Jordan, at age 20 the youngest player on Portland’s roster, batted .254 with six homers and 31 RBIs for the Sea Dogs. A Portland teammate recently said this about Jordan in an milb.com piece: “He’s one of those guys that will roll out of bed and just hit .300, just rake, his first swing of the day is just a backside missile at 107 mph. It’s unbelievable.” A 6 feet 2, 220 pounds, power is Jordan’s best tool; he has 36 homers in 270 pro games. P.S. A couple more Mississippians got to celebrate minor league championships on Wednesday. Decatur native and ex-Ole Miss standout Kemp Alderman helped Jupiter, a Miami affiliate, win the Low-A Florida State League pennant, beating Clearwater 7-4 in the deciding game. Alderman, a second-round draftee this year and the Marlins’ No. 9 prospect, batted .313 in the playoffs and .205 with a homer and 15 RBIs for the season. He went 0-for-2 with three walks, a run and an RBI in Wednesday’s game. Mississippi State alum Christian MacLeod, a third-year pro, partied with the Cedar Rapids Kernels after the Minnesota affiliate won the High-A Midwest League title. MacLeod, a lefty, went 5-2 with a 4.13 ERA this season. … MSU product Jacob Robson went 1-for-4 with two RBIs as Kansas City beat Chicago 7-6 on Wednesday to claim the independent American Association’s Wolff Cup. Robson hit .250 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs for the Monarchs this season and hit three bombs in the postseason. Ex-MSU standout Gavin Collins, who didn’t play in the clincher, batted .314 with 10 homers and 41 RBIs for KC. The Monarchs’ first-base coach is Greenville native and former MLB All-Star Frank White.

16 Sep

here and there

Mashing three home runs, including Wes Clarke’s 26th of the year, Biloxi pounded Montgomery 9-2 on Friday night at MGM Park to stay alive in the fight for the second-half title in the Southern League South. The Double-A Shuckers, a Milwaukee farm club, must win the last two games against the Biscuits to make the postseason for the first time since 2019. … South Panola High product Emaarion Boyd went 2-for-4 with a run and a stolen base as Clearwater beat Lakeland 2-1 to reach the championship series in the Low-Class A Florida State League. The Threshers, a Philadelphia affiliate, will play Jupiter (Miami) for the league title. Ex-Ole Miss star Kemp Alderman is a starting outfielder for Jupiter. … Former Mississippi College standout Blaine Crim smacked homers No. 19 and 20 and ex-Mississippi State standout Justin Foscue added his 16th as Triple-A Round Rock (Texas) beat Las Vegas 7-3 in a matchup of Pacific Coast League division leaders. Crim and Foscue combined for six RBIs. … MSU alum Zac Houston, 28, now in his seventh minor league season, got a win in relief for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (New York Yankees), striking out four Buffalo batters in two scoreless innings. Houston, who has a 4.62 ERA, is averaging 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings for the RailRiders. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has a 3.17 career ERA while averaging 13.7 punchouts per nine. … The independent American Association’s Wolff Cup Finals begin tonight with the Kansas City Monarchs — featuring MSU alums Jacob Robson and Gavin Collins — taking on Chicago Dogs. … In MLB, former Southern Miss star Matt Wallner went 2-for-2 with an RBI to help Minnesota beat the Chicago White Sox 10-2 and reduce its magic number to 7 for clinching the American League Central crown. … Ex-George County High standout Justin Steele suffered a rare rocky outing (six runs on two homers in six innings) as the Cubs fell at Arizona 6-4. Steele is 16-4 with a 2.73. The Cubs are clinging to the second wild card in the National League, with the Diamondbacks and three other clubs in hot pursuit. … MSU products Jordan Westburg and Adam Frazier were a combined 0-for-5 with three strikeouts as Baltimore lost to visiting Tampa Bay 7-1 and fell into a tie for first place with the Rays in the AL East.

15 Sep

time to shine

Kemp Alderman chose a good time to come up with what was probably the best game of his young pro career. The former Ole Miss star, a second-round draft pick by Miami this year, went 3-for-5 with a walk, two doubles, a triple, two runs and an RBI as Jupiter beat Palm Beach 7-6 Thursday to reach the Florida State League Championship Series. The 2023 Ferriss Trophy winner as the state’s best player, Alderman had his struggles with the Low-Class A Hammerheads, batting .205 with one homer and 15 RBIs in 34 games. A big-time power hitter at UM, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Alderman slugged just .316 this season. After going 0-for-4 in the opener of the best-of-3 division series against Palm Beach, Alderman broke out in Game 2 with his first three-hit game. The spotlight will get brighter in the league finals, where Jupiter will play the winner of the Clearwater-Lakeland series, currently even at 1-1. One of Clearwater’s driving forces is Emaarion Boyd, the second-year pro out of South Panola High. The Philadelphia Phillies prospect, typically the Threshers’ leadoff batter, hit .262 with 68 runs and 56 stolen bases in 91 games. P.S. On the subject of Ferriss Trophy winners in the Marlins’ system, Jake Mangum — who won two at Mississippi State — enjoyed a three-hit game for Triple-A Jacksonville in its loss to Gwinnett. Mangum had a double (No. 26 this year), a triple (No. 8), scored twice and picked up an assist from center field. In his fourth pro season — first in Miami’s system after a December trade from the New York Mets — the 27-year-old Mangum is batting .305 with five homers, 47 RBIs and 16 steals. He is still waiting on his first MLB call-up.

13 Jun

speed demon

The highest grade scouts give prospects for a specific tool is 80. Emaarion Boyd got a 70 for his “run” tool, and the ex-South Panola High standout is showing it off in his first full pro season. An 11th-round draft pick last summer by Philadelphia, Boyd leads the Low-Class A Florida State League in stolen bases with 33. He swiped six in one game last week. The 5-foot-11, 177-pound center fielder also has produced with his bat, hitting .268 with five extra-base hits and 14 RBIs for Clearwater. Boyd has scored 31 runs in 40 games for the Threshers, who stand 40-16 and already have clinched a first-half division title. Boyd is rated as the Phillies’ No. 12 prospect. The mlb.com scouting report highlights his ability to put the ball in play — he hit .345 in rookie ball in 2022 — and projects that he’ll get stronger and add power to his game. The speed will always be there. P.S. Magee’s Brennon McNair, an 11th-round pick in 2021 by Kansas City, also has flashed eye-catching speed this season. Playing at Low-A Columbia in the Carolina League, McNair has 15 steals in 16 attempts. The third baseman is batting just .209 but has a homer, four doubles and four triples. … James Beard, considered one of the fastest players in the 2019 draft coming out of Loyd Star, has been stalled by injuries in the Chicago White Sox’s system. He swiped 28 bags in A-ball in 2022 but hasn’t played yet this season. … Billy Hamilton, probably the fastest player to come out of the Magnolia State, is on a rehab assignment for the White Sox at Triple-A Charlotte. The former Taylorsville High star, 32, is Mississippi’s all-time MLB steals leader with 326, two this year. He has 405 in the minors, three this year.

28 Apr

the hot list

Nathaniel Lowe, a former Mississippi State standout, had a day in the Florida State League on Friday. Lowe went 4-for-5 with two home runs and six RBIs for Port Charlotte, Tampa Bay’s high Class A club. The left-handed hitting first baseman, a 13th-round pick out of State in 2016, is actually having quite a season, leading the FSL in hitting at .390 and hits with 32. He has four homers and 21 RBIs. “As long as I play like I know how to play, then everything is going to be all right,” Lowe told milb.com. He hit .348 with five homers and 49 RBIs in his one season in Starkville. Among Lowe’s teammates this season is his younger brother Josh, who was a first-round pick by the Rays out of high school in 2016 and is considered the better prospect. Maybe there’s some sibling rivalry at work there. … The minor league hot list includes former Northwest Rankin High star Daniel Sweet, who is batting .356 in the FSL for Daytona, a Cincinnati affiliate. Sweet, a switch-hitting outfielder, was a 29th-round pick out of Dallas Baptist in 2016. … Ole Miss product Tate Blackman is among the top hitters in the low-A South Atlantic League, batting .359 with three homers for Kannapolis in the Chicago White Sox system. Second baseman Blackman was a 13th-round pick last June.

13 Jul


Anthony Alford is back in Dunedin of the Florida State League, where he is reunited with fellow Mississippian D.J. Davis. The 2012 Toronto draft picks have seen their careers veer off in very different directions. Alford, a third-round selection out of Petal High, is in A-ball again on a major league rehab assignment. The outfielder, who turns 23 next week, was batting .325 with three homers and nine steals at Double-A New Hampshire when he was promoted to the big leagues on May 19. He was 1-for-8 before suffering a broken left wrist and landing on the disabled list on May 24. Alford, whose career was stalled for a couple of years while he played college football, is rated among the top prospects in the Blue Jays’ system. He is No. 38 on Baseball America’s most recent chart of the Top 100 overall. Davis, a first-round draftee out of Stone County, was once a highly rated prospect himself. Not so much now. The outfielder, who turns 23 on July 25, is in his second season at Dunedin after spending two years in low-A ball. He is batting .218 with 19 steals but has just six extra-base hits. He batted .197 in 2016. Perhaps inspired by Alford’s arrival, Davis went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI for Dunedin on Wednesday. He needs a lot more days like that in what remains of his season.